Business researchers express suggestions to improve employment conditions in SAR

The SAR government should adopt a proactive fiscal policy to attract business investment, create short-term jobs and internships and provide salary subsidies to reduce the unemployment rate, and provide more social support to disadvantaged groups, different business researchers and representatives suggested in an online seminar held by the University of Macau (UM) Center for Macau Studies (CMS) yesterday (Wednesday).

The event, which was chaired by CMS Director Agnes Lam, focused on the Macau SAR government’s policy address for the fiscal year 2023, inviting experts and scholars to provide suggestions on the SAR government’s future policies and measures.

An overview of the seminar provided by UM indicated that Tong Kai Chung, president of the Macau Institute of Management, underlined that the SAR will continue to be affected by the US monetary policy, geopolitical volatility, the COVID-19 pandemic, and factors related to pandemic prevention and control.

Therefore Tong suggested for local authorities to adopt a proactive fiscal policy to attract business investment and make strenuous efforts to develop the Guangdong-Macao In-depth Cooperation Zone in Hengqin.

The reseracher also pointed out that the SAR government’s policy next year should focus on restoring market confidence, stabilizing the gaming and tourism market, and supporting the livelihoods of grassroots residents.

Macau’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined by 39.3 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter.

Meanwhile, local gross gaming revenue took a 66 per cent year-on-year nose-dive to MOP8.49 billion between April and June 2022, compared with a MOP25.38 billion tally a year before, as the tourism industry saw a 27.5 per cent drop in the number of visitor arrivals.

Latest official data show Macau’s overall unemployment rate stood at 4.1 per cent in the May-July period of 2022, the highest level since the September-November period of 2005, while the jobless rate for residents even reached 5.4 per cent in the May-July period of 2022, the highest since such data was available in 2008.

The overall underemployment rate in Macau between May and July 2022 — employees who work involuntarily fewer than 35 hours a week — also hit a record high of 13.4 per cent since such data was available in 1996.

During the seminar, Lei Chun Kwok, assistant professor in the Faculty of Business Administration (FBA), warned that Macau will continue to be affected by unemployment, underemployment, and economic recession in the short term.

The professor asked for governemnt-led short-term jobs and internships, salary subsidies, or new policies to make border crossing arrangements smoother to attract mainland visitors.

At the same time, Chan Kin Sun, assistant professor in the FSS, warned of the difficulties faced by young and middle-aged people to enter the cultural, tourism, and convention industries and suggested that the government and higher education institutions should provide more courses and training to help residents in changing their careers.

Xu Jianhua, head of the Department of Sociology of the FSS, even expressed concern over the rapid increase in the number of suicides this year, with 47 suicides and over 100 suicide attempts reported as of August 31.

He suggested that the SAR government should try to ease the stress of underprivileged people in its future policy, while Pun Chi Meng, secretary-general of Caritas Macau urged for a strengthening of support services for the elderly and appropriate services for non-resident workers to maintain their mental and physical health

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